Good evening, everyone. I’m Josh Bernoff, your moderator for the PBS/WOBS presidential debate, here in Washington, DC. This is a historic debate in a brand-new format, which I’ll now describe.
For the first time, we’ve brought together the leading candidates from both parties in one debate. There are no time limits on your answers. However, I and my fellow moderators each have a series of buttons in front of us. Should your answer go off topic, we’ll just cut off your mike and go on to the next question.
Let me introduce our moderators for tonight’s debate. Elon Musk is a highly successful entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla Motors. Neil deGrasse Tyson is an author, scientist, and director the Hayden Planetarium. Nate Silver is the founder of fivethirtyeight.com and an incisive political observer and forecaster. And Ben Bernanke is an economist, the former head of the Federal Reserve Bank. We’ve chosen these moderators because of their creative outlooks, focus on the future, and ironclad dedication to facts over opinions and emotional appeals.
Each of our moderators has in front of him a Microsoft Surface or Apple iPad tablet. They’re in communication with other experts around the world, and have full access to the Internet. They’ve researched the content on your Websites and will be interrupting you should you make a claim that is at odds with past statements, or with established facts.
To be fair to the candidates, we’ve also placed a tablet at each candidate’s podium. As would be the case in the real world, candidates are in contact with their own experts through these devices, and can research information on the Web in real time. Using these devices, the candidates can even project information on a screen that everyone in the audience and at home can see.
We’ve asked the moderators to share most of their questions in advance with the candidates — we’re interested in carefully considered answers, not responses to “gotcha” questions. This is about substance, not theater. My hope is that we can all learn something new tonight.
With this format, we will be able to judge the candidates on how well they make decisions and present themselves with full information and preparation, rather than just posturing with quick one-liners and pandering to the crowd. And by putting Democrats and Republicans together on one stage, we hope to see a debate that emphasizes differences, rather than just slight shades of meaning in the position of one party or the other.
Now let’s begin. Mr. Musk, please ask your first question . . .